The Royal Navy has its first battlefield Wildcat crews after seven months of intensive training

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Naval Forces News - UK
 
 
 
The Royal Navy has its first battlefield Wildcat crews after seven months of intensive training.
 
Eleven pilots and seven aircrew from 847 NAS and the Army’s 652 Sqn based at RNAS Yeovilton have received their Wildcat badges. During the flying phase of training, 847 NAS flew alongside the Hawks of 100 Sqn and Typhoons from 9 Sqn RAF. The aircrew also took part in a Naval gunfire support exercise with the Type 45 destroyer HMS Dauntless.
     
Eleven pilots and seven aircrew from 847 NAS and the Army’s 652 Sqn based at RNAS Yeovilton have received their Wildcat badges. During the flying phase of training, 847 NAS flew alongside the Hawks of 100 Sqn and Typhoons from 9 Sqn RAF. The aircrew also took part in a Naval gunfire support exercise with the Type 45 destroyer HMS Dauntless.
A Wildcat helicopter makes its final approach to land on HMS Dragon
Picture: Royal Navy
     
The final test saw the crews fly at low level wearing night vision goggles. Instructor WO1 Tony Cooke from 652 said: “Having been involved with the Wildcat programme for over seven years, to reach the point where we have delivered the first full conversion course is the pinnacle of my flying and instructional career.”

The aircrew began their Wildcat training last July with ground school before moving on to the simulator and finally the aircraft. WO1 Cooke added: “The students generally found the pure flying aspects of the Wildcat course straight forward. The steep learning curve to the conversion was understanding and learning the complex avionics and mission systems.

“Most aspects of operating the Wildcat involve digital manipulation of various systems such as selecting radios, setting up the digital maps correctly and optimising the displays. “What we are trying to teach the student is to operate the systems in the most efficient manner.”

So far some of the Wildcat instructors have achieved 600 hours on the helicopter, while Lt James Nottingham of 845 NAS achieved his 1,000th total flying hours milestone during his final training flight. The students, who formerly flew Sea Kings, Lynx, Apache or Chinooks, received their Wildcat badges from Col Mike Smith, Commander of ARF.

The newly-qualified crew will fly for both the Commando Helicopter Force and the Army Air Corps’ Aviation Reconnaissance Force. Having mastered flying the aircraft, the next step for the Junglies of 847 NAS is learning to use it in combat. The Wildcat has replaced the veteran Lynx helicopter.

Link to AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat multi-role maritime helicopter technical datasheet

 

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